Reader Question: Getting to the Bowel of It

Dear Baby 411,

My 20 month old screams in pain every time she has a bowel movement. This has been happening for a while. Her doctor hasn’t told me anything that I haven’t tried. I heard that goat milk may help her problem. I’m not familiar with goat milk as I grew up with cows milk.
cute little boy crying holding his ear
It breaks my heart to see my daughter scream and cry in pain. Thank you in advance.

Your Reader


I’m so sorry you’re going through this issue. The goal is to make her poop nice and soft so it never hurts for it to come out—that way she will not be fearful of pooping and toilet training later on.

The key points here are:

  1. Increase fiber in the diet. You can adjust to the amount she needs to make the stool soft.
  2. Make sure she drinks at least 8 ounces of water a day and limit milk intake (cow’s milk is fine) to 2 cups a day. Excessive milk intake sometimes is constipating.
  3. Consider a short time laxative. The one I advise is MiraLAX which is over the counter. But you should discuss this with your doctor. I usually do a larger dose initially and then a maintenance dose until the poop is soft. I’m not able to offer individual medical advise to readers so you need to discuss recommendations with your doctor.

Check out the Toddler 411 book for a list of high fiber food choices. A ballpark for her is around 5-7 grams of fiber a day. Go slowly and see how much it takes to get her poop soft.

All the best,

Dr. B
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